ABC News: Air marshals flooding UK, German flights over new terror threat

posted at 3:05 pm on May 14, 2007 by Allahpundit

The Blotter’s report of a nascent terror plot in Germany was challenged by Reuters on Friday, so they’re back today with a new piece linking it up to airports in Britain and claiming that the threat is so dire, training of air-marshal cadets is being abbreviated in order to get them onto planes more quickly.

As many as five or six U.S. air marshals are now assigned to each U.S.-bound flight from airports in Frankfurt, London and Manchester, England, because of fears terrorists might attempt a coordinated series of mid-air explosions, law enforcement officials tell the Blotter on

We’re afraid someone in the back is going to mix something or light something up, so air marshals are being placed strategically through the plane,” said one senior law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the stepped-up security.

The stepped-up security on flights out of Britain’s Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports began about two weeks ago, based on intelligence reports that another al Qaeda hijacking plot was in the making, the officials said…

Security on all flights out of Germany was increased about two months ago, based on similar intelligence, the officials said…

“The intelligence was that there are plans to take a plane and crash it in a high-density, high-profile place,” one official told The official said the timing and identity of the “high-profile place” was not contained in the intelligence reports.

I’m not sure how they’re reconciling those two bolded parts. The first one sounds like the British airline plot from last summer, where the plan was to smuggle explosive chemicals onto the planes, mix them onboard, and then detonate simultaneously. That itself was a reprise of the Bojinka plot from the mid-1990s; as we’ve seen before, once AQ has its heart set on something, it keeps trying ’til it gets it right. But in that case, what’s the deal with the bit about crashing the planes into high-profile targets?

This is odd, too:

U.S. officials said that an al Qaeda-connected cell in southwest Germany had been under 24-hour surveillance since the beginning of the year after some of its members were detected conducting surveillance on the headquarters of the U.S. European Command at Patch Barracks, near Stuttgart.

The cell, officials said, is made up of members of the Islamic Jihad Group, a violent terrorist organization based in Uzbekistan.

Doubtless there are jihadis in Uzbekistan, but if they’ve ever tried a major attack in the west, it’s a new one on me. It’s not even clear from the Blotter’s article whether the Patch Barracks plot is connected to this new British/German airline plot they’re reporting or if they mean to suggest that it’s something separate but “oddly coincidental.”

I don’t know. Definitely worth flagging given how seriously the marshals are taking it, but add a pinch of salt.

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Or maybe a distraction. We step up security on the planes and they go after the trains. Whatever it is, pray it is busted up.

Tony737 on May 14, 2007 at 3:20 PM

“…busted up.”

That reminds me, one day me and a coworker, Dan, were in an airport, waiting for our plane. I was on my Treo internet phone (same one I’m typing on now) reading through the headlines on Lucianne. I see a story in there about an airline plot and cell being *busted up* in London. I read the story and then hand the phone to Dan. As he’s reading it, a woman with big fake boobs is walking toward us. Just as she’s about to pass us, Dan finishes the story, hands me back the phone and just as he’s looking us and she’s right in front of him, he says “Nice bust.” The woman stops dead in her tracks and looks down at him like “You jerk” and keeps walking! Haha! He didn’t even see her coming!

Tony737 on May 14, 2007 at 3:32 PM

Sorry, that should be “… just as he’s looking UP…”

Tony737 on May 14, 2007 at 3:34 PM

Let’ see…I question the timing…Rove, you magnificent bastard…If you would just consult the FOSSIL RECORD…and, just in case, Booosh!

Anything I missed there?

Blacklake on May 14, 2007 at 3:57 PM

And we ‘need to know’ this from ABC? Oh…I forgot, the ‘need to know’ trumps everything else. Got it. I need to know the minutes of the last 10 ABCNEWS board meetings.

Limerick on May 14, 2007 at 4:02 PM

AP, this went over your head, didn’t it?

Ross just blew apart a high level security op by telling the world, espeically Al Qaeda and their allies, that every US bound aircraft will have a half a dozen sky marshals on board. DOH!!


Oh, and don’t forget to publish their SEAT ASSIGNMENTS, while you’re at it!!

georgej on May 15, 2007 at 7:11 AM

I’m not sure how they’re reconciling those two bolded parts.

I know this is too old to bother commenting on, but I’m going to do it anyway.

They don’t have to make enough explosive to blow up the plane — in fact, I wouldn’t think you could mix anything in a lavatory that would do that. All they have to do is punch a big hole in the plane as it approaches a major city, and let it crash.

(I also don’t have a problem with them announcing this. Better to have ten sky marshalls and zero terrorists on board. But then, I fly a lot, so maybe I’m biased.)

Tanya on May 15, 2007 at 12:31 PM

All they have to do is punch a big hole in the plane as it approaches a major city, and let it crash.

Yeah, but I took it to mean from the piece that they were thinking of specific high profile targets. Also, how would they know precisely when to detonate to ensure that the plane would go down over a city? Unless they’re going to do it while landing, they’d be at such an altitude that it’d be almost impossible to tell where the plane would crash.

Allahpundit on May 15, 2007 at 12:35 PM

If they’re planning to crash ten planes at once, I can’t see how much aim would matter.

Even if they all hit the suburbs, the effect of hitting Paris, London, Berlin, New York, LA, Moscow, Chicago, Rome, Tel Aviv, and Madrid simultaneously would be the same as if they all hit skyscrapers.

Tanya on May 15, 2007 at 12:44 PM

And yeah, I did mean during the landing sequence. I didn’t ever say that, did I? I agree that 30k feet wouldn’t work.

Tanya on May 15, 2007 at 1:11 PM

Why exactly would America sit on its hands while the terrorists plot our destruction? Instead of waiting around wondering when the terrorists will strike and hoping to get enough evidence on them enough to hold up in court, why don’t we just kill them? That’s why we have a CIA, isn’t it? There must be fifty ways to kill your jihadi. Get to it.

Tantor on May 15, 2007 at 6:07 PM